We are excited to announce the launch of the latest version of Pure Storage’s remote vSphere plugin, 5.1.0. It includes a number of bug fixes PLUS a highly sought after feature: vVols VM point-in-time (PiT) recovery!
Why am I excited about this feature?
With vVol PiT VM recovery, you can now easily recover an entire VM that was accidentally deleted (and eradicated) or you can restore the state of a VM back to a point in time that you took a snapshot from vCenter directly while using Pure’s vSphere plugin.
The requirements of this are Pure’s vSphere remote plugin 5.1.0 and Purity™ 6.2.6 or higher for PiT revert and for PiT VM undelete with a vVol VM that has had its FlashArray™ volumes eradicated from the FlashArray itself. If you’re undeleting a vVol VM that has not been eradicated yet, that functionality is present for Purity versions 6.1 and lower.
For PiT VM revert, you will also need to make sure that you have snapshots of all of the volumes associated with the vVol VM except swap- at least one data volume and one configuration volume.
For VM undelete before the volumes have been eradicated, you will need a snapshot of the vVol VM’s configuration volume.
For VM undelete after the vVol-backed VM has been eradicated, you’ll need a FlashArray protection group snapshot of all the VM’s data volumes, managed snapshots and configuration volumes.
Rather than rehash what my teammate Alex Carver has put a lot of work into, I’m just going to link to the KB and videos he created:
Download the new plugin (part of Pure’s OVA), read the release notes and test out vVol PiT recovery today! Like a lot of things, it’s better to have some understanding of what’s happening and why before needing something that might be part of your recovery process. Please note that you can also upgrade in-place from 5.0.0 to 5.1.0 (and future remote plugin releases) by following this guide.
This feature has many names. Creating a larger config vVol. Creating a sub-vVol datastore. Creating an ISO repository. Etc.
In 7.0U2, VMware added a new feature that supports creating a custom size config vVol–while this was technically possible in earlier releases, it was not supported. Also, I should note that this is not supported by all vVol vendors, so of course speak to your vendor first.
First to review what a config vVol is check out this post:
In short, it is a mini VMFS that gets created when you create a directory in a vVol datastore (most commonly created by creating a new VM). This defaults to 4 GB in size. Enough to store the general VM files; some logs, VMDK pointers, vmx file, and some other frivolities.
The issue though is that this was not large enough to store large things like ISOs or vib files or whatever. So if you tried to upload something to a vVol datastore folder it would fail with an out-of-space issue. And you cannot upload to the root of a vVol datastore because a vVol datastore is not a file system. So you had to use VMFS or NFS to store those objects.
Howdy doody folks. Lots of releases coming down the pipe in short order and the latest is well the latest release of the Pure Storage Plugin for the vSphere Client. This may be our last release of it in this architecture (though we may have one or so more depending on things) in favor of the new preferred client-side architecture that VMware released in 6.7. Details on that here if you are curious.
Improved protection group import wizard. This feature pulls in FlashArray protection groups and converts them into vVol storage policies. This was, rudimentary at best previously, and is now a full-blown, much more flexible wizard.
Native performance charts. Previously performance charts for datastores (where we showed FlashArray performance stats in the vSphere Client) was actually an iframe we pulled from our GUI. This was a poor decision. We have re-done this entirely from the ground up and now pull the stats from the REST API and draw them natively using the Clarity UI. Furthermore, there are now way more stats shown too.
Datastore connectivity management. A few releases ago we added a feature to add an existing datastore to new compute, but it wasn’t particularly flexible and it wasn’t helpful if there were connectivity issues and didn’t provide good insight into what was already connected. We now have an entirely new page that focuses on this.
Host management. This has been entirely revamped. Initially host management was laser focused on one use case: connecting a cluster to a new FlashArray. But no ability to add/remove a host or make adjustments. And like above, no good insight into current configuration. The host and cluster objects now have their own page with extensive controls.
vVol Datastore Summary. This shows some basic information around the vVol datastore object
First off how do you install? The easiest method is PowerShell. See details (and other options) here:
Not long ago I posted about our initial release of our vSphere Plugin that supports the HTML-5 UI–the main problem though is that it did not yet support the VVol stuff we put in the original flash/flex based plugin.
So accordingly, the most common question I received was “when are you adding VVol support to this one?”. And my response was “Soon! We are working on it”.
A VVol datastore, is not a file system, so it is not a traditional datastore. It is just a capacity quota. So when you “mount” a VVol datastore, you aren’t really performing a traditional mounting operation as there is no underlying physical storage to address during the mount. So instead of mounting some storage device, you are mounting what is called a storage container. This is the meta data object that represents the certain amount of capacity that can be provisioned from a given array. An array can have more than one storage containers, for reasons of multi-tenancy or whatever.
In a VMFS world, when you go to create a new datastore, you pass it the serial number of the storage you want to format with VMFS. You know that serial, because, well, you created the storage device. When you “mount” a VVol datastore, instead of a device serial, you supply the storage container UUID. It comes in the form of vvol:e0ad83893ead3681-b1b7f56a45ff64f1. Of course the characters will vary a bit.
I’ve been making a lot of updates to my PowerShell module around VVols recently and this was the last “table stakes” cmdlet I wanted to add. There are certainly more to come, but now we definitely have the basics. In 126.96.36.199 release of the PowerShell module I added a cmdlet called Mount-PfaVvolDatastore.
As of today we support a single VVol datastore–though we are working on adding support for more than one.
This post is somewhat specific to Pure Storage–the cmdlets of course are universal, but behaviors may not correlate to your storage array. So if you are using VVols on a non-Pure array, certainly consult your vendor.
Furthermore, this is certainly specific to PowerCLI when it comes to the commands. With that being said, the fundamentals on how this works with Pure is common for all orchestration tools, so you should be able to use this information for other tools. Though of course the cmds/syntax will be different.
The FlashArray implementation of Virtual Volumes surfaces VMs on the FlashArray as standard volume groups. The volume group being named by the virtual machine name. Each VVol is then added and removed to the volume group as they are provisioned or deleted. These objects though are fairly flexible–we do not use the volume group as a unique identifier of the virtual machine–internally we use key/value tags for that.
The benefit of that design is that you can delete the volume groups, rename them, or add and remove other volumes to it. Giving you some flexibility to group related VMs or whatever your use case might be to move things around, without breaking our VVol implementation.
This post will be about managing one-off snapshots with VVols on the FlashArray with PowerCLI.
One of the still semi-valid reasons I have seen DBAs say “I dont want to virtualize because…” Is that they have simple snapshot/recovery scripts for their physical server that allows them to quickly restore DBs from snapshots. Doing this on VMFS requires A LOT of coordination with the VMware layer.
So they tell the VMware team–“okay I will virtualize but I want RDMs”. Well the VMware team says “well we’d rather die”
…and around in circles we go…
VVols provides the ability to provide this benefit (easy snapshot stuff) but still get the benefits of VMware stuff (vMotion, Storage vMotion, cloning, etc) without the downside of RDMs.